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Sweet and easy pumpkin cream cheese swirl bars are a delicious dessert alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie

A recipe inspired by Sally's Baking Addiction

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Looking for an outrageously rich pumpkin dessert to celebrate fall and all its warm, cozy flavors? Make these pumpkin cream cheese swirl bars, inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction, and you’ll find yourself throwing a weekly harvest party just to eat dessert.

What makes these pumpkin cream cheese bars so special? Every tasty bar is a hand-sized piece of intensely spiced pumpkin cake lusciously joined with a cheesecake-like swirl and sprinkled with toasty cinnamon-dusted pepitas. This decadent treat is perfect for the holiday dessert table, a weekend treat for the family, or fall gatherings with friends.

ALSO TRY: Traditional, simple and sweet – this pumpkin roll with cream cheese filling screams fall and the holidays

Though pumpkin cream cheese swirl bars look impressively complicated, they are actually quite easy. It starts with a basic pumpkin cake recipe that boasts butter, vanilla, and a generous amount of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. About two-thirds of the batter is spread in a large parchment-lined baking dish. Spoonfuls of the sweetened vanilla cream cheese batter are then dropped on top. The remaining pumpkin batter goes on top of that, and the two batters are swirled with a spatula.

Pepitas please! Tossing pepitas in ground cinnamon and sprinkling them on the pumpkin cream cheese batter before baking is a delicious way to add a lovely pumpkin seed flavor and crunch. These tasty green-hued gems are pumpkin seeds without the familiar white shells you’re used to seeing inside Halloween pumpkins. You don’t have try to shell the pumpkin seeds though! You can find shucked pumpkin seeds — also known as pepitas — in the bulk section of the supermarket.


Mix the dry ingredients together

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. The generous quantity of spices give these pumpkin bars an enticing fall flavor.

5D4B1402 - Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars - Mix the dry ingredients together


Beat the wet ingredients together

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, Beat the butter until creamy. Add the brown sugar and cream the butter and sugar together. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Scoop pumpkin puree into the bowl and beat until the mixture is well combined.

5D4B1434 - Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars - Beat the wet ingredients together


Combine the wet and dry ingredients

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. Mix just until combined. Set aside.

5D4B1444 - Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars - Combine the wet and dry ingredients


Make the cream cheese mixture

Using a clean mixing bowl and paddle attachment, beat the softened cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sugar, egg, and vanilla until well combined.

5D4B1453 - Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars - Make the cream cheese mixture


Prepare the baking dish

Spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line the dish with a large sheet of parchment paper that covers the bottom and sides of the dish.

5D4B1475 - Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars - Prepare the baking dish


Swirl the pumpkin and cream cheese batters

Evenly spread 2/3 of the pumpkin batter in the prepared baking dish. Drop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture onto the pumpkin batter. Drop in spoonfuls of the remaining pumpkin batter. Use a spatula to gently swirl the pumpkin and cream cheese mixtures together.

5D4B1503 - Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars - Swirl the pumpkin and cream cheese batters


Sprinkle with cinnamon pepitas

Toss pepitas with cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the swirled batter. These nutty gems add a lovely crunch to every bar.

5D4B1539 - Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars - Sprinkle with cinnamon pepitas


Bake and cool

Bake at 350 F for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the bars to cool completely at room temperature. This dessert needs to be refrigerated before being cut. Refrigerate for 2 hours to cool completely. Use a sharp knife to cut it into 24 squares and serve.

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Pile high on a large platter

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Makes for the perfect holiday treat

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The pepitas create a nice pop of color

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Great as a dessert or with coffee in the morning

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Absolutely delectable!

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Pumpkin cream cheese swirl bars

Yield 24 servings

Ingredients

For pumpkin batter:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

For cream cheese swirl:

  • 8 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup pepitas, tossed in a sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth.
  4. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and light in color.
  5. Beat in the egg and vanilla on high speed.
  6. Add the pumpkin puree and beat on medium speed until well-incorporated.
  7. Turn speed to low, then slowly add the dry ingredients until combined, but not overmixed. Remove and set aside.
  8. Using a clean mixing bowl and paddle for the stand mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed for 1 minute.
  9. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Beat on high speed until well-combined.
  10. Grease and line the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  11. Spread 2/3 of the pumpkin batter evenly into the prepared dish.
  12. Drop spoonfuls of cream cheese batter on top of the pumpkin batter.
  13. Drop the remaining pumpkin batter on top of the spoonfuls of cream cheese. With a rubber spatula, gently swirl the two batters together. Both batters are thick, so don’t rush.
  14. Sprinkle cinnamon pepitas on top of the swirled batter.
  15. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  16. Allow the bars to cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator for about 2 hours before cutting into squares.
  17. Serve.

Courses Desserts


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